It’s a good thing that Las Vegas’ NHL expansion franchise has been so successful this year because it sure looks like Sin City’s other first-year pro franchise, the WNBA’s Aces, could be in for a very long season. Here’s a look at a few intriguing matchups this week. Check back for WNBA betting odds on gameday.
When: Friday, 10:30 PM ET
The Mystics are the lone 4-0 team entering this week. The have largely dominated thus far and won at home vs. Minnesota on Sunday, 90-78. Kristi Toliver had 19 points, including five 3-pointers, and Washington’ backups scored 58 points to help the Mystics overcome an 18-point deficit. Minnesota had swept the Mystics last year in the league semifinals. The star of the Mystics is Elena Delle Donne, who averages 16.5 points and 7.3 rebounds. She missed nearly the entire final three quarters of the game vs. Minnesota with an illness.
Delle Donne’s first season with the Mystics last year following a trade from Chicago was just OK as the team dealt with injuries and never really put it all together in the regular season with their multitude of new players. And Washington is short-handed again this season, as Emma Meesseman, Washington’s second-best player, is sitting out the season to rest. The Mystics are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Las Vegas is 0-3 in its first season since moving from San Antonio. The franchise was bought by MGM Resorts. The Aces have a future star in 2018 No. 1 overall pick A’ja Wilson. The Aces dropped their home opener on Sunday, 105-98 to Seattle. Wilson led Las Vegas with a season-high 27 points. Nia Coffey, the fifth pick in 2017, scored a career-high 23. Sunday was the first time the Aces played with guards Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum, who returned to the States earlier in the week after finishing their overseas season in Turkey.
McBride has paced the Aces in scoring average in each of her four seasons in the league, and is a career 34.9 percent shooter from long distance. Plum made 36.5 percent of her shots from beyond the arc in her rookie season a year ago.
Aces logos were all over Vegas on the holiday weekend, from the video signboards on the strip, to the casino floors and the gift shops selling team merchandise in several bustling resorts. The team is coached by former NBA Pistons Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer.
Washington beat visiting Las Vegas 75-70 on May 22. Delle Donne had 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Connecticut at Chicago
When: Friday, p.m. ET (ESPN3)
The Connecticut Sun are the only other unbeaten team in the WNBA at 3-0. Their closest win was by eight points but all three games were at home. They knocked off Indiana on Saturday, 86-77. Alyssa Thomas led the Sun with a season high of 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Rachel Banham finished with a career-high 14 points. Her previous career-high was 13 points on May 14, 2016 at Chicago. The guard also collected a season-high two assists. Eight different Sun players scored, and Connecticut racked up 20 assists on 32 made field goals.
The last time Connecticut got off to a 3-0 start was in 2008. The Sun currently lead WNBA in scoring average (96.3 ppg), made field goals (36.3 per game), shooting percentage (.522) and assists per game (24.3). The Sun became the first team in WNBA history to open the season with consecutive 100-point games, and six players are scoring in double figures. Thomas is averaging team highs of 16.3 points and 10 rebounds while also dishing out 4.3 assists.
The Sky (2-2) dropped their second straight Friday, 95-91 in OT at Seattle. The Storm rallied from 80-66 down with six minutes left in regulation. The Storm scored 24 points off 18 Sky turnovers compared to Chicago’s five points off eight Storm turnovers. In the fourth quarter and overtime, Seattle forced nine turnovers and committed zero of their own.
Allie Quigley posted a season-high 23 points on 8-for-12 shooting. In Chicago’s last two games at KeyArena, she has averaged 24 points per game (scored 25 last season on July 17, 2017). The Sky came away with a season-high 14 steals.
The Sky have waived Adut Bulgak and Chelsea Hopkins allowing for veteran guard Courtney Vandersloot and forward/center Astou Ndour to return to the active roster. The 2018 season is 29-year-old Vandersloot’s eighth playing with Chicago. She returns after averaging a career-high of 11.5 points per game with the Sky last season. Ndour, standing at 6-foot-5, was acquired by the Sky during a 2017 trade with the San Antonio Stars (now the Las Vegas Aces), but was suspended shortly after due to injury.
Expert WNBA Betting Predictions
Washington keeps Las Vegas winless, while the Sky knock off the Sun.